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    Review of MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER by Simon Hawke

    Forge, December 2002

    Symington (Tuck) Smythe and his friend Will Shakespear find that the theater business can be chancy. London's council has banned theater production and their company's tour of the countryside was largely a bust. Now, back in London, they rehearse, drink too much beer, and wait for something positive to happen. In the meantime, Tuck makes money using his blacksmith skills rather than his (dubious) theatrical ones and Shakespear writes sonets for the amusement of England's nobility (and for his own profit). In these hungry times, the apprentices of London frequently go wild, stealing, breaking heads, and generally causing problems.

    A rich merchant from Genoa looks to be a godsend to the theater, but murder puts a definite damper on that plan. When a friend of Tuck and Shakespear is accused, the two must, once again, turn detective to uncover the true killer and free their friend.

    Author Simon Hawke (see more reviews of novels by Hawke) tells a charming tale. Fans of Shakespear will get a chuckle out of the way Hawke puts well known lines from the bard into the mouths of his characters--for Shakespear to adapt later in his famous plays. I found the early going to be interesting but slow--Hawke spends the first half of the book setting up the mystery, then swings into action in the second half of the book.

    Hawke's London feels authentic, with dirt, wild apprentices, disease, and a sense of hope that the future may be brighter. Tuck is an interesting and sympathetic character--his love for the theater matched only by his lack of talent. MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER is certain to generate some smiles.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/01/03

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